Ah, the joys of summer: Sunny days, sprinklers in the yard... and itchy, itchy bug bites.
Yep, there is always a downside to each season. Summer’s bummer is all the mosquitoes that come out to lunch on us as we try to enjoy long, languid days outside.
But before we vilify the buggers too much, we should tip our hats to their role in our ecosystem. They do, after all, feed fish and act as pollinators.
That’s about the only nice things that can be said about those pesky buggers. The fact that they carry diseases — including the West Nile virus that is now being identified in the Midwest — makes them an easy target for our grumbling.
She’s not alone in her loathing. In Pinellas County, Florida alone, nearly $4 million is slated for public mosquito control programs this year, according to the website StPeteBeachToday.com. Can you imagine what we spend nationwide?
But what about your own backyard? How can you keep your kids from getting eaten alive?
For some of us, mosquito control actually starts in the kitchen.
“Garlic naturally repels insects,” advises Constance.
“Last summer my sister's husband cooked with garlic in everything. She said that she may have smelled like garlic the whole time. At least she wasn't being bitten. I have been cooking with garlic lately because I also have a really bad reaction to mosquito bites. My entire arm will swell up, and Lily (my daughter) and I haven't been bitten yet,” she explains.
Krista E. is another mom who uses garlic to keep the mosquitoes away.
“Evidently if you spray your yard and house with it (garlic oil), the mosquitoes (and ticks) will stay the h*ll away. The smell dissipates quickly for humans, but those bugs can smell it for about a month or so. My husband’s cousin tried it just on their deck just to see and said that they could actually see the mosquitoes flying toward them and then turning around.”
If garlic's not your ticket, there are other natural scents known for repelling the pesky insects.
Iris P uses tea tree oil: "Just a drop and mix it with water, then either spray it on or apply it on the skin with cotton pads,” she shares. And Stephanie W. concurs: “Mix a few drops [of tea tree oil] with water and spray or rub onto skin. It's kind of strong smelling, but it keeps the bugs off. I use it while camping and everyone makes fun of me for smelling like it, but pretty soon, after many bug bites, they all end up using it too,” she writes in the Breastfeeding Moms community.
“After working out in my huge rosemary bush, I’ve noticed I don’t get eaten by bugs. So I guess rosemary oil is a good one too,” posts Kate C.
“We always ate a lot of dill pickles and that kept them off us,” reports Barb S. (She doesn't say whether it's the garlic or the dill.)
But perhaps the best way to keep mosquitoes at bay is to not give them a place to live and breed: Standing water.
That cute pool your kid loves to play in all summer is a mosquito’s reproductive dream come true.
“I don't leave any standing water in our yard. Empty every children's toy. Look under the deck. Empty that old plastic bucket. (Check your) husband's abandoned tire stack behind the garage. Water stands inside the tires. Remove any and all standing water. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant standing water,” advises Ink E.
“Where there is water, there will be mosquitoes...Before we moved, my neighbor in Florida went on vacation and it rained quite a bit while she was gone. She had a planter that filled with water and the mosquitoes swarmed her yard and mine. I actually jumped the fence when I saw what the problem was, so that I could dump the planter, and within about half an hour they were gone,” shares Joy B.
On the other hand, water that's well-placed can be to your advantage.
“Get a strong plastic Ziploc bag and fill it with water. Hang it somewhere in the yard. The mosquitoes will be drawn to that and leave you alone. You might want to do this with several bags,” shares Sara H.
And it might not be fashionable, but there is an old Boy Scout trick that seems to keep bugs away: dryer sheets.
“Dryer sheets just being in the vicinity would keep them away, probably because of all the chemicals that are toxic,” writes Dana S.
Bottom line: As Joy B. says, “There is no way to totally prevent mosquitoes." When you're outside, you're in their territory. But you can limit your exposure.
Donna N. advises covering up by wearing "long sleeves and long pants in light colors" plus"closed shoes to keep toes from being eaten."
And the best prevention? "Don’t go outside at dawn or dusk.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.